Saturday, July 19, 2008

What Is Insomnia?

I wanted to start my series about sleeplessness and insomnia by talking about what "insomnia" is.

The easiest definition of insomnia is too little sleep; but it can also mean poor quality sleep. Some of the ways you experience insomnia are trouble falling asleep; waking up frequently, or not being able to stay asleep, waking up earlier than you want to, and not feeling rested even after sleeping for 8 hours or more. (Everyone's need for sleep is different, but 7-8 hours seems good for most people.)

There are different types of insomnia: short term insomnia (transient insomnia, if you need a more technical sounding term) which only lasts a little while, and may be the result of things like jet lag, and usually returns to normal by itself; intermittent insomnia, which comes and goes; and chronic or long term insomnia which can happen for many consecutive days. (I think the medical definition of chronic insomnia says 3 nights a week for a month or more.)

Chronic insomnia is divided into primary insomnia, which is not caused by another medical condition; and secondary insomnia, which can be caused by other medical conditions, or medications, or stress, or anxiety, poor sleep environment, or psychological conditions, such as depression.

Short term insomnia usually does not require any treatment, as it goes away on its own; chronic insomnia may require medical treatment, especially if it is related to another medical problem. It is a good idea to discuss any sleep problems with your doctor, or other primary caregiver, to rule out any other medical problems.

I will continue this discussion in my next post.

The material presented in this blog is for informational use only and should in no way be used as a substitute for needed medical treatment. I am not a doctor, I do not diagnose or treat disease. If you need medical care, please consult the appropriate medical professional. And please discuss with your doctor if you are taking or planning to take any herbal preparations.

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